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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Analysis: Campbell's successor

By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent

He's lively, quarrelsome, occasionally aggressive - and extremely good company.

In many ways Dave Hill - the man replacing Alastair Campbell, not the guitarist from Slade - is very like his predecessor.

Hill has a long history with Labour
He is a highly-experienced, professional Labour party operator. And his partner, Hillary Coffman works in Downing Street too.

But in many other ways he is an entirely different beast from Alastair.

And that is the point - despite his background with the media he is almost completely untainted by "spin".

He is a fully paid up member of what many describe as "real Labour"
He has a long history with the Labour party and with the media and, largely thanks to his dry Brummie humour, has made very few enemies.

Unlike Mr Campbell he is a fully paid up member of what many describe as "real Labour" .

To be sure, he has modernised in much the same way other, traditional Labour MPs have done.

And he would undoubtedly claim that he was always a supporter of the same approach to power that Tony Blair, and certainly Neil Kinnock before him, adopted.

But he comes from the Labour Party family in a way neither his new boss, nor Mr Campbell really did.


He was once a fiery left-winger - weren't they all? - and after years of service for the party ended up working for the then shadow Home Secretary Roy Hattersley.

These were the 1980s when Mr Hattersley was routinely attacked by his party for his right-wing policies.

Mr Hill regularly used to insist that his boss was far more left-wing than his enemies portrayed him.

And indeed, the post-shadow cabinet Hattersley appears to have reverted to precisely the sort of character Mr Hill painted.

Mr Hill - once nicknamed Sancho because of his moustachioed resemblance to Don Quixote's sidekick (and he will love to be reminded of that ) - worked tirelessly for Mr Kinnock's Labour Party and played his own, significant part in New Labour's victory.

Ecclestone affair

He stayed in party HQ after the election, but missed out on the top job.

He moved out of front-line politics shortly after the Bernie Ecclestone affair which saw the government accused of accepting a donation from the Formula One boss before exempting the sport from a tobacco advertising ban.

At the time Mr Hill - who retains the trust of political journalists - gave some incorrect information to the press corps on the affair.

No one was ready to believe he had deliberately misled them but there was gossip at the time that he had felt uncomfortable with the handling of the affair.

And he starts his new role with a clean, spin-free slate and will kick off the job with immense goodwill from the hacks.

That is precisely why he has been taken on - to show to the world that the government really has kicked the addiction to spin.

The BBC's Sean Curran
"Former colleagues say he has a very different style from the man he's replacing"


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